How to get your kids into books

Encouraging your children to love reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, so says bookworm EIMEAR HUTCHINSON
How to get your kids into books

The close contact between parent and child and calmness that surrounds us when we read is a lovely way to help a child unwind, says Eimear. Picture: Stock

IF you have read any of my columns over the last year, I don’t think you’ll be under any illusion about the fact that I adore reading. I’d go so far as to say I prefer it to television — what is not to love about curling up under the covers at night-time and escaping to a world far removed from talks of Covid!

My husband also loves reading, although we literally couldn’t be further apart in terms of the type of books we go for!

It goes without saying that we both naturally wanted our children to love books as much as we do. We have woven it into our everyday lives as a family and so far we appear to be passing on that love for reading, the girls all love books and the older girls love reading. So if you are eager to encourage your children to love books and reading, here are a few useful things we have done that seem to have worked.

LET THEM SEE YOU READ

Aside from the girls knowing I love reading, I try to read in front of them if I can. Now, as a mother of four young children I can say that is a challenge at best, but if I happen to find myself in the luxurious position of sitting down with a cup of coffee and if I am stuck in a really good book, I will pick that up instead of my phone. Or when we used to go on holidays with my in-laws, I loved to sneak in a bit of reading on the beach as the girls were being entertained and minded by adults other than me. Ah bliss.

READ FROM A YOUNG AGE

I know from experience it seems futile reading to babies, it appears like they have little interest and perhaps that is so, but reading to children from a very young age is a great step in the bedtime routine.

The close contact between parent and child and the calmness that surrounds us all when we read a simple book is a lovely way to help a child wind down before bed. It can also play a helpful part in encouraging them to talk when they get a little older.

We started reading to all our girls from around the ago of six months, when they can sit up and have started to find their hands interesting, so simple lift-the-flap board books and touchy feel books are a great place to start reading with babies.

PART OF THE BEDTIME ROUTINE

As the girls have gotten older, a book is still an integral part of the bedtime routine. We have found it especially important when the girls have been between junior and senior infants. We encourage them to read a few lines in the book and it is a great way to build confidence with children who wouldn’t be quite ready for reading a long book by themselves but enjoy listening to them at night.

For example, my husband is reading Harry Potter to our seven-year-old and he gets her to read Hermione’s talking parts!

LET THEM PICK

Another great way to get them excited about books is to bring them into a book shop or a library and let them choose their own. I haven’t been in a library in quite some time now but in life pre-Covid we used to love spending time in the local libraries and letting the girls flick through books and pick some for themselves.

It is the age-old parenting trick of getting children involved in choosing, whether it is dinner time, pants for potty training, etc, if they are involved in the process of picking they are much more likely to be on board, same goes for choosing books and then wanting to read or listen to them.

BOOKS AS GIFTS

For the girls’ birthdays and at Christmas we love giving books to them as gifts. That’s not rocket science but it all works towards the goal of getting them excited about them.

If you are used to letting them choose their own books, especially as they get a bit older, it is a great way as a parent to pick something outside of what they would normally read.

My girls absolutely love Diary Of A Wimpy Kid and my eldest would read it all day because it is easy, but I have gotten her some old fashioned books recently like the Famous Five and Mallory Towers which give her insight into a whole different world, and because I used to love the books myself it gives us great opportunity to chat about books together.

MINI REVIEWS

Talking about books is another great way to keep children interested and engaged in them, and also to make sure they aren’t just skimming through them! I love getting the girls to do a mini review on the books they read and so far they seem to love doing it for me.

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